ALL ARE SAVED BY FAITH
From this week until Thursday next week, we read from the Letter of St Paul to the Ephesians. Today’s reading is a long “blessing’ in the Jewish style, a thanksgiving for our salvation in Christ. God has chosen us and destined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ, who is to become the head of everything.
Lord God of the covenant,
we thank you for the gift of faith
in your Son Jesus Christ,
in the forgiveness and love
which he brought us from you.
All you let us touch and feel
is pure grace and a free gift.
Give us grateful hearts, Lord,
that recognize your goodness
in nature, in people around us,
and above all in your Son Jesus Christ,
who lives with you and with us now and for ever. Amen!
1 Reading: Ephesians 1:1-10
Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the holy ones who are in Ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favour of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. In Christ we have redemption by his Blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favour that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6
R. (2a) The Lord has made known his salvation.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm. R
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel. R
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise. R
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD. R
Alleluia John 14:6
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Luke 11:47-54
The Lord said: “Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and Apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute’ in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.
The first ten verses of the Letter to the Ephesians are rich in Pauline theology. Three words stand out very vividly: mystery, redemption, and adoption. The mystery of God consistently in Paul’s thought is the plan of salvation in God’s Son that was concealed from eternity and revealed only in these final days. Redemption means the acquisition of humanity from the throes of sin “by the blood of Christ.” But redemption does not signify simply moving from a state of alienation to one of favour. It means “adoption.” Through the gift of the Spirit, the living bond between Christ and the Father, we are made part of that life, not by nature as was true of Christ, but by adoption. Christ becomes brother and God becomes “Abba” (Father). Finally, since all of creation has been touched by Christ’s saving blood, the ultimate part of the mystery of God means that all things are summed up in Christ in heaven and on earth.
This is as complete a summary of the work of God in Christ as we will find in the New Testament. It apply points to the extent to which we have been favoured. When we are encouraged to walk in the Spirit, we are moved by the realization of what this mystery entails and the extent to which God has loved us. To sin seriously is to turn our backs on this goodness and to walk in another direction.
The Lucan Jesus today reminds the Jewish leaders that they have taken away the “key of knowledge.” Accordingly, he calls them what the Igbos term “agada gbachiri uzo.” (the heavy log that blocks everyone’s way). Not only have they not entered, but they have deprived others of entry as well. Our time in this life is limited indeed; let us use it with the gratitude of members of God’s household.
– For all who witness to the truth, that the Spirit may put the right words in their mouths, we pray:
– For all of us, that we may do our tasks in life honestly and with zeal, we pray:
– For all who celebrate the Eucharist, that the Lord Jesus may make us trustworthy and authentic persons, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
God, loving Father,
what is there that we can give to you
which you have not given us first?
Accept these gifts
which you let our hands transform
into tokens of our gratitude.
And let us join in the thanks and praise
of your greatest gift to us,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
Thankful for all you have given us,
we ask of you today
God, our loving Father:
make us, in turn, generous and liberal
to all whom we encounter in life.
As we have received freely from you,
may we learn to give with open hands and hearts,
without asking or waiting for a word of thanks,
and giving ourselves with our gifts,
as Jesus did, your Son,
who is our Lord for ever and ever. Amen!
Let us thank God for all the graces he has given us, especially our faith and our Lord Jesus Christ among us. Let us also be grace and blessing to one another, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!